Jatropha cardiophylla – Sangre de Cristo
Scientific Name: Jatropha cardiophylla
Synonym: Mozinna cardiophylla
Common Names: Sangre de Cristo, Heartleaf Limberbush
Duration: Perennial, Deciduous
Growth Habit: Shrub
Arizona Native Status: Native
Flower Color: Inconspicuous (pale yellowish white)
Flowering Season: Summer. This plant blooms after the summer monsoon rains have begun.
Height: To 4 feet (1.2 m) tall or more, but usually less here
Description: The flowers are small, tubular, 5-lobed, and inconspicuous beneath the leaves. The leaves have long, reddish petioles and are glossy green, up to 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm) wide, toothed, and heart-shaped, heart-shaped-triangular, or cordate-hastate. The leaves and flowers appear after the summer monsoon rains. The numerous, arching stems are brown, slender, and unusually flexible or limber. The stems contain a clear sap that dries to create permanent, blood-like stains on clothing. Not even bleach will remove these "bloodstains" (I've tried it on a cotton shirt).
There are 3 other Jatropha species found here in Arizona. The similar Physicnut (Jatropha cuneata) has small, oval leaves, Ragged Nettlespurge (Jatropha macrorhiza) is an herb with pink flowers and palmate leaves, and Arizona Nettlespurge (Jatropha cinerea) has larger, rounded leaves and fat stems.
Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Family: Euphorbiaceae – Spurge family
Genus: Jatropha L. – nettlespurge
Species: Jatropha cardiophylla (Torr.) Mll. Arg. – sangre de cristo
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